Ukulele shopping on Oahu; lots of choices, but…

Ah, Oahu. Land of pineapple and sugarcane.

Okay, not so much these days.

But it certainly is Valhalla for ukulele players. Especially those looking to add a four-string lovely to their instrument stable.

But that wasn’t the only reason why Mark and I visited the island known as “The Gathering Place” (or is that just a tourist slogan?). There are other things to do on Oahu. Things beside search out ukulele shops, play multitudes of koa (and other) delights, talk story with ukulele players even more passionate about ukes than I and just absorb the island ukulele vibe.

Well, sure there are. But the ukuleles are the best part.

And, this visit, I  knew I’d discover a perfect second ukulele. Yes, “second” as in just one beyond a single ukulele. You see, my little LoPrinzi soprano and I have been monogamous for ten years now; other instruments have tempted me at the more than 25 festivals I’ve attended, but none stole my heart. I figured perhaps I was simply a one-uke gal–and I was kinda proud of that loyalty.

Continue reading Ukulele shopping on Oahu; lots of choices, but…

2013 Reno Uke Fest: Bet on it!



Gambling isn’t my thing—but ukuleles sure are—so you can bet I was at the 2013 Reno Uke Fest. Lots of other folks joined me and I’m not exaggerating when I say this festival is one of the “most bang for the buck” ukulele events you’ll find.

Choose your favorite element:

  • Evening concerts with pro players who know their way around a fretboard like Tiny Tim knows his way tiptoeing around a tulip garden.
  • Workshops led by teachers who really know how to explain things.
  • Schmoozing with ukulele friends you may have only known from Internet forums. O rmake new friends and jam with them.
  • Open mic opportunities.
  • Vendors booths stocked with all things ukulele, from tuners to custom instruments that elicit jaw drops.

Yep, it’s all there. And, if that’s not enough, there’s always the casino…

This is my third (or fourth?) time at the Reno festival and it’s easy to see the event’s promoters love ukuleles—and ukulele players! That’s, of course, because the promoters are ukulele players themselves.

Need a gathering place for a group of forum friends for a meetup while at the festival? They’ll find a room for you. Looking to snag an extra ticket for the night’s sold-out concert? Perhaps they’ll have one. Got some input about workshops or performers for next year? They’ll listen and take notes.

In short, this is the festival to attend if you want to enjoy just a day or a whole weekend of ukulele-centric activities.

Ukulele builders were abundant in the vendor area. How many times do you have the opportunity to not only test play an instrument handcrafted by Mike DaSilva, David Iriguchi  or Mike Pereira but also talk to the luthiers and get a real feel for their approach to building?

Plenty of new builders were there, too, creating their own reputation for bespoke ukuleles. The guys from Tyde Music made Reno their first ukulele show and they had everything from four-string ukes to uke stands, cajons and even furniture to display.

Feeling lucky? This festival’s (deservedly) famous end-of-Saturday raffle provides far better odds than the casino downstairs. Dozens and dozens of prize ranged from tuners and CDs all the way up to high-end factory-built ukuleles and custom ukuleles crafted by the best. Four people from Ukuleles of Paradise attended the festival and three of them won items—including Shirley with a custom Iriguchi ukulele.

Join us next year—even if you don’t snag a raffle prize, just attending this festival is a solid win.

Were you at Reno? Here’s proof!

When I attend an ukulele festival I can tell you all about it, but, since I’m usually on the focusing end of the camera, I don’t typically have any visual proof that I was there. Well, except for the multiple credit card receipts…

I figured other folks might face a similar issue (“What did you learn at the festival? Oh, I see, you’re still playing just a few chords? Well, did you really go???”)

So when I had a small booth at the 2013 Reno Uke Fest in April, I thought I’d add a free festival photo booth beside where I was selling my line of ukulele jewelry from the Pacific. [Side note:  My CPA says I can “write off” some of these festival expenses if I have a “real ukulele business” that makes a little “real” money, so now I do: See ]

I hung some background murals (thanks to the really nice–and tall!–guys from Tyde Music next door to my booth) and stocked the table with a variety of comic bubble sayings, cardboard lips and mustaches, zany sunglasses and, of course, flower lei. Then I invited folks to pose for their own souvenir photo of Reno Uke Fest 2013.

Do you recognize any of the ukulele folks above? Just use the arrows to scroll through and see who was at Reno Ukulele Fest 2013. Yep, they were really there. And I have proof!